Hon. J. W. Pickersgill (Minister of Transport):
Mr. Speaker, on November 5 last I announced that certain assistance was being given to three airports in Ontario, Sarnia, St. Catharines and Waterloo-Wellington. At that time I indicated that consideration was being given to a new policy with respect to assistance to secondary airports, that is airports which are not used by scheduled air lines generally. The government has now reached a conclusion about this matter, and I think I should communicate it to the house as briefly as I can if that will be agreeable to hon. members.
As a result of this change in policy there have been substantial changes in the capital assistance program for building local and other smaller airports. Federal assistance to municipalities and other public bodies was hitherto limited to 50 per cent of the capital cost of local and development airports up to a federal share not exceeding $100,000. Treasury board has now approved a policy under which the 50-50 limitation will be dropped. The new policy will be based instead upon the firm requirement that in every case a local body must assume full responsibility for operation and maintenance, and as well, if land is required in support of the development, then the municipality or other public
body must provide the land required. Each case will be the subject of individual study and the amount and percentage of the federal contribution determined on the merits of the case.
The limit on grants which may be approved in any one fiscal year to all airports shall not exceed an approved ceiling of $1 million. A restriction that runways must be built to "DC-3 or larger" standards has also been lifted so that small communities may now develop a basic turf aerodrome at minimum cost. Outright contributions for small aerodromes in remote areas have also increased from $50,000 to a maximum of $100,000.
The new proposal reflects the growth of all types of civil air operations other than air line in Canada, which in terms of hours flown are about three times as extensive as air line route operations. I think this will surprise many hon. members. Special studies have shown this proportion to have been maintained in the past three years.
The policy is expected to be of benefit to larger communities with relatively ambitious airport plans as well as to smaller communities which do not need and could not afford the kind of airport supported under the former scheme. The new policy also opens new possibilities for vacation and convention areas where an annual influx of summer tourists justifies a landing strip, but where the small resident population cannot afford one without considerable financial assistance.
Main line and auxiliary airports required for air line operations are not affected by the change, as the transport department either owns and operates or provides maintenance subsidies to municipalities operating them. Support for seaplane base facilities will now be made within the same general classifications as land airports; main line, auxiliary, local, development and remote.
The department estimates federal contributions under the new policy may total up to $10 million over the next 10 years. Full details of the new policy will shortly be available from the air services regional offices very shortly.
May I also say that I learned this morning with great gratification that the United Kingdom government through the agency of the minister of air transport, Mr. Jenkins, had agreed to have Air Canada fly a shuttle service on the route Montreal-Halifax-Ber-muda, or simply Halifax-Bermuda, whichever is more convenient to the air line. The British government has been very understanding of our needs and wishes in this
matter, and I wish to express great satisfaction and gratitude.
Subtopic: POLICY ANNOUNCEMENT RESPECTING ASSISTANCE TO SECONDARY AIRPORTS